Ah, the sweet sounds of summer. Birds chirping, water lapping against a boat, the drone of lawn mowers, and a sizzling grill are all music to the ears. Summers are short in Minnesota, so we savor every minute and do everything we can outdoors including preparing, cooking, and eating meals.
There is no shortage of grilling going on around here! When you think about grilling, you think about burgers and chops – anything you can sear or skewer. But what about the herbs? Though delicious when grilled on their own, veggies, fish, and chicken sing a sweeter tune when paired with herbs (as does the humble martini). These are some of the most scrumptious herb combos you’ll consume this season, thanks to herbs from your own grill garden!
Thyme is a versatile, delicious herb that can be used in a multitude of dishes but pairs particularly well with salmon or cod, whether grilled or baked. Just wrap fillets in foil and top with whatever you like– lemon or orange slices, onion slices, a drizzle of olive oil, sour mash whisky (optional) and sprinkle with chopped thyme leaves. Close tin foil and grill. Pink Chintz Thyme can be grown in between steppers and tolerates light foot traffic. Plant it as a ground cover and you’ll have a ready supply. Zone: 4-9.
Chicken and rosemary are a love match. Rosemary has woody stalks that are ideal for using as flavorful skewers. Just strip the needle-like leaves from about 1/3 of the stalk and skewer chicken pieces onto it. Toss on the grill for a few minutes on each side, and enjoy. Remember to remove stalks before eating, unless you like chewing on sticks. Barbeque Rosemary is easy to grow variety with especially remarkable flavor and aroma for cooking. Strong, straight stems make perfect barbecue skewers. Zone: 8-10 but they can overwinter indoors in a sunny window.
The Italians know a thing or two when it comes to delicious food, and thanks goodness someone long ago thought “Hey, I’m going to eat this leaf and see what happens.” Paired with tomatoes or baby bell peppers, it’s perfecto. Skewer vegetables, brush with a mix of olive oil, chopped oregano, and sea salt and grill for just a couple of minutes to get a nice char. The dense, low, spreading habit of Italian Oregano makes it perfect to grow in containers or along the edge of a garden as a lovely border plant. Zone: 6-10.
Everyone needs a refreshing drink with dinner, and lavender has a fresh, flowery, seductive flavor. Use flowers to make a syrup for martinis, lemonade, soda water…whatever you fancy. Boil 2 cups of water, add sweetener to taste, and a handful of organic lavender blossoms. Simmer for two minutes, remove from heat, and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain, cool, and add to summer drinks. All lavenders will work with this recipe, but we like Munstead Lavender because it’s super hardy. Zone: 5-9
Plant herbs in close proximity to the kitchen and the grill. This way it’s easy to pop over, snip off a delicious addition, and make the most of the herb garden.
Most herbs prefer full sun, and it makes the flavors more intense, but many will tolerate light shade too.
Herbs grown in containers are easy to maintain and make a beautiful gift.
Many herbs are perennial depending on your zone, and these can be planted directly in the ground and overwintered. Containers are also a great way to grow herbs that can become somewhat invasive, like mint.
Mix it up. Create new recipes. Have fun. Happy grill gardening!